The Latest: Fighter pilots home with families after crash

AP News
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Posted: Jun 08, 2016 2:33 PM

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the crash of two South Carolina Air National Guard fighter jets in Georgia (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

The commander of the South Carolina National Guard says the two pilots who survived a midair collision in Georgia are in good shape and are home with their families.

Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston Jr. said Wednesday that neither of the planes was carrying bombs or explosives when they went down late Tuesday night in Jefferson County, Georgia.

But Livingston warned people against touching any wreckage they might find in the area, noting that fuel and other materials from the F-16C jet fighters could be dangerous to handle. People are asked to call 911, their local authorities or the South Carolina National Guard at 803-647-8888 if they find any parts.

The wreckage of only one of the planes has been found so far.

Livingston did not release the pilots' names.

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11:00 a.m.

First responders in eastern Georgia say the pilots of two fighter jets from the South Carolina Air National Guard that crashed at a rural bombing range were talking normally when they were found.

Jefferson County Fire Chief Jim Anderson says the pilots of the F-16C jets were taken to a hospital Tuesday night as a precaution. The planes crashed at the Bulldog Military Operations Area while on a training mission.

Anderson said the pilots did not talk about the details of the crash. They've returned to South Carolina for debriefing in the investigation.

Anderson says one pilot was found in a pasture and the other at the edge of some woods.

Wreckage of one of the planes was found in some woods. Crews are still looking for the other jet.

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9:50 a.m.

The fire chief in Jefferson County, Georgia, confirms there were no injuries on the ground when two South Carolina Air National Guard fighter jets collided over a bombing range.

Chief Jim Anderson says the area where the planes came down Tuesday night is a very rural section of the county.

Anderson said crews have found the wreckage of one of the F-16C fighters, which was found in some woods.

He said crews are still looking for the second plane, which they expect to find near the first crash site.

The pilots ejected safely and are back in South Carolina being debriefed as part of the crash investigation.

McEntire Joint National Guard Base commander Col. Nicholas Gentile (jin-TIHL'-ee) says the planes were among six F-16s training for an upcoming deployment.

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8:45 a.m.

The commander of a South Carolina National Guard base says two F-16 fighter jet pilots involved in a midair collision over Georgia are two of the most experienced flyers in the unit.

Col. Nicholas Gentile (jin-TIHL'-ee) said he cannot yet release the names of the pilots, who ejected safety following the collision over a remote bombing range in Jefferson County, Georgia, on Tuesday night.

But Gentile says both pilots have returned to South Carolina and are being debriefed as part of the investigation of the crash.

Gentile says the planes were part of a six-aircraft group that was training for a future deployment mission that he cannot talk about now.

He says both jets were destroyed.

The Townsend Bombing Range is used by the National Guard, Marines and Air Force.

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7:35 a.m.

Officials from the South Carolina National Guard are heading to Georgia to investigate the apparent midair collision of two F-16 fighter jets.

Col. Cindi King says the planes appear to have both crashed in remote areas of Jefferson County, Georgia, late Tuesday.

McEntire Joint National Guard Base commander Col. Nicholas Gentile (jin-TIHL'-ee) was heading to the crash scene Wednesday morning.

King could not immediately say whether the pilots have been released from medical care. But she says both pilots were well enough to eject safely and to contact National Guard officials in South Carolina to say they were okay.

The crash site is known as the Townsend Bombing Range and is where South Carolina Air National Guard fighter jets routinely train for their electronic warfare and bombing missions.

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5 a.m.

The South Carolina Air National Guard says two F-16 fighter jet pilots ejected safely after a midair collision over eastern Georgia.

A news release from the Air National Guard says the collision happened Tuesday night around 9:15 p.m. during routine night-flying operations over a military operating area in Jefferson County, Georgia.

The jets were assigned to the South Carolina Air National Guard's 169th Fighter Wing.

The Air National Guard says local first responders were securing the area. There have been no reports of injuries on the ground.

The Air Force will conduct a safety investigation of the incident.

The collision comes after both of the military's precision flying teams suffered crashes last week. A Blue Angels F/A-18 crashed last Thursday in Tennessee while taking off for a practice session, killing the pilot. On the same day, a Thunderbirds F-16 crashed in Colorado but the pilot ejected safely.